Location Russia Russia

Russia 2.5 million petitions against the reform of retirement pensions delivered to the Duma

On July 5, it took a whole van to deposit the dozens of cartons containing two and a half million petitions against the draft bill to increase the retirement age, petitions that were collected by the Russian Labour Confederation (KTR).

Taking advantage of the opening of the Football World Cup, Prime Minister Medvedev had announced his intention to increase the age for retirement from 60 to 65 for men, and from 55 to 63 for women. The vote on the draft bill is scheduled to take place in the Duma on July 19.

Dozens of gatherings have taken place in many towns in response to the call from trade unions and various political parties. In Irkutsk, a major town close to Lake Baikal in Siberia, several gatherings have already been held, called by trade unions: “We are taking part in all the gatherings, we are organizing the distribution of leaflets, and we actively preparing the national day of mobilization that will take place on July 18. For the moment, many workers hope that Putin will finally intervene against this draft bill”, stated a group of Siberian activists. These gatherings — “the biggest social protests, in number, in over ten years”, according to a journalist from Vedomosti — are worrying the local authorities. Thus the governor of the Irkutsk region has just announced that he will not back the draft bill. The governor of the Magadan region (in far-eastern Russia) – who is nevertheless a member of Putin-Medvedev’s United Russia party – has responded similarly.

The first gatherings took place ten days ago in the towns of European Russia, although they have been forbidden in all the towns that host the World Cup games. In Dzerjinsk, an industrial town near Nijni Novgorod, “five hundred of us gathered on the Lenin Square, which is a lot for a town like ours. But this demonstration was not lacking in problems. The representatives of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) had banned the activists of the Utchitel teachers union from speaking, knowing that they were posing the question of a call for a national strike for the withdrawal of this draft bill. Yet this ban brought about an unexpected reaction: the activists of the KSM (Communist Youth) collectively decided to turn in their membership cards, in protest,” as our correspondent reported.

Elsewhere, Alexei Navalny, the head of the “liberal” opposition, is attempting to self-proclaim himself representative of the demonstrators – but he himself called for the increase in the retirement age during the 2014 election. In spite of all the obstacles, in hundreds of towns, including Moscow, gatherings are being prepared on July 18 to demand the withdrawal of the draft bill.

Source: IWC newsletter

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